Written by Katharine Erwin.
"You taste of America" - Jean Girard, Talladega Nights. America, you know that country where everyone is from somewhere else? Now the same can be said about NASCAR. NASCAR, the driving sport that was started with bootleggers in modified vehicles outrunning johnny law, is no longer for stereotypical tooth-less yokels drunkenly falling before a single engine is started. It is for all those who love speed and racing. Some dismiss the sport as a bunch of "left turns," but they obliviously haven't experienced the G force going well over 100 mph on a 20+ degree banking.
The excitement of the pit lane, even with its speed limit of 45 mph is enough to wet any gear head's whistle and install a rush life threading fear. NASCAR has higher ratings in the US than any other sport besides NFL and even has the world's largest HDTV (Charlotte Motor speedway, price has not been disclosed.) NASCAR is essentially putting on a couple Super Bowls each weekend. The races are televised in 192 countries around world every race.
But back to the US of A, this past weekend, at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet Jr, became the first Brazilian driver to win the Nationwide series. Winning runs deep in 26-year-old Nelson's blood. His father is Nelson Piquet, the 3 time F1 champion who also had a very brief stint at Indy car. Like his father, Nelson once drove in F1, but left the league due to an unfortunate situation. He came to NASCAR two years ago and has quirky been making his way up the ranks in the U.S. dominated sport.
Recently, I watched a mini international festival happen at NASCAR with the Brazilian, a British artist and an Italian motor-sports gear company. Alpinestars teamed with the artist, Death Spray Custom and Nelson who drives No. 30 for Turner Motorsports, to create a special livery at the All Star weekend. DSC, whose ethos is a weird triangle of creativity, regulation and satire, had designed a colorful truck inspired by heat vision colors. Death Spray Custom aka David Gwyther, deliberately made sure that the truck stuck out like sore thumb on the grid that might well have been and Andreas Gursky photo. Although the truck was easy to spot that weekend, No. 30 didn't fare as well as this past weekend. After hitting the wall in an aggressive run to the top six, Nelson's truck was shooting fire. It became even more visible. He pitted and managed to have one more go round, but the A arm was beyond repair.
DSC was fine with the fiery finish, stating, he would "rather see flames, than a 20th place" but on the other hand, Nelson, whose sole job is to win, wasn't too pleased but proudly showed his (and Brazil's) true colors.